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Man is murdered and burned alive by mob in Algeria after being falsely accused of starting wildfires

Police in Algeria have arrested 36 people after a man was murdered and burnt by a mob after being wrongly accused of starting wildfires.


Wildfires in Algeria
Distressed man looks on at the wildfires ravaging through Algeria

Starting last Monday vicious wildfires have torn through the mountainous Kabyle region of Algeria, leaving at least 28 soldiers and 47 residents dead, whilst destroying livestock and local olive groves.


Djamel Ben Ismail, 38, who was an artist was murdered by a crowd of people on Wednesday after being falsely accused of starting several of the fires, it has since turned out that Ismail had actually come to help with the fires, the head of the judicial police said on Sunday.


Aftermath of the Algerian wildfires
More than 74 fires have been put out across Algeria in the last 24 hours

Mohamed Chagor said the crowd was in a "collective hysteria" when it dragged Mr Ben Ismail out of a police station, where he was being protected, and attacked him in the town of Larbaa Nath Irathen, a village ravaged by flames in the Tizi-Ouzou district.


Fireman in Algeria putting out forest fires
Local firefighters work near the village of Toudja, Algeria

Chagor, said that police officers decided against firing warning shots at the mob, fearful that this would escalate and make the situation even worse.


One of the men arrested in the lynching also stabbed the victim before he was burned. Video footage and photographs of the incident appeared online, the authorities used these to identify the suspects and make arrests.


Mr Ben Ismail was buried the following day in his hometown of Khemis Miliana, west of the Kabyle capital of Tizi-Ouzou.


Most of the wildfires "no longer represent a danger for residents," Civil Protection official Colonel Farouk Achour said in a statement.


More than 74 fires were put out in the last 24 hours, he claimed.


Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said authorities suspect a criminal origin behind the blazes even if a heatwave across North Africa "is part of it".


So far, at least 22 people have been arrested on suspicion of arson.